Fury as tribunal sides with lawyer’s racist abusers
● Mark Lewis fined for his ‘offensive’ response to three-year hate campaign against him that included death threats
A DECISION by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal to fine leading lawyer Mark Lewis for sending a small number of “offensive” messages in response to a threeyear hate campaign against him has been opposed by MPs and fellow lawyers, and prompted outrage from members of the public.
Mr Lewis, who has worked with UK Lawyers for Israel and is best known for representing phone hacking victims, was subjected to “thousands” of antisemitic messages from neo-Nazis.
Some of the messages included death threats and Mr Lewis had to increase his personal security as a result, the tribunal heard.
Trolls also mocked Mr Lewis’s multiple sclerosis and superimposed an image of his face on photographs of a crematorium at Auschwitz.
His attackers included Alison Chabloz, who received a two-year suspended sentence in August after being convicted of posting “grossly offensive” songs mocking Jews who died in the Shoah.
Despite this background, the tribunal found that Mr Lewis’s response — a small number of “offensive and profane” messages posted on Twitter and Facebook, including one in which he “‘wished death” on some of those who were attacking him — merited punishment, and he was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs.
A Just Giving campaign set up on Monday to raise £12,500 to help Mr Lewis pay the penalty and legal costs had already raised over £10,000 by Wednesday night.
Organisers of the campaign wrote: “Mark Lewis stood up to anti-
semites and as a result faced a professional disciplinary hearing.
“Anyone who regards themselves as an anti-racist should be appalled by this hearing and verdict. The victim has become the perpetrator. Mark Lewis is a hero who has stood up for all of us. Surely the least we can do is ensure that he does not suffer financially.”
Timothy Kendall, who represented Mr Lewis, told the panel that more than one of his abusers had been convicted for their abuse and argued that his client had only responded to a small amount of the abuse on social media between 2015 and 2016.
Mr Lewis said the death-wish message he sent was in response to a collection of about “10 tweets” that included “similar” abuse.
At the tribunal, Mr Kendal presented a letter in support of Mr Lewis that had been signed by eight MPs and parliamentarians including Luciana Berger, Lord Pannick QC, Baroness Deech and Ruth Smeeth. Other signatories of the letter were Alex Sobel, Tom Brake, Andrew Percy and Chris Bryant.
Mr Lewis told the JC that the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which charged him, “was faced with a choice between Holocaust denying neo-Nazis and a Jewish lawyer.
“It chose to side with the neo-Nazis. It is on the wrong side of history. It is the Holocaust revisionists who are celebrating the verdict. That tells you all that you need to know,” he said.
“I am so grateful for the support that I have received from the Jewish and legal communities both in terms of attendance at the tribunal and financially.” He added he was due to make aliyah on December 5, saying: “I am so pleased that there is a homeland to go to.”
In its judgment, the SRA said it “does not in any way support or condone the offensive antisemitic messages to which the respondent claims that he was responding in the communications that he sent”.